Mike Hendricks: Roeder not another John Brown, David
Little David slew the mighty Goliath and held aloft the Philistine's severed head.
Rembrandt and Caravaggio painted the bloody scene from 1 Samuel. Now comes Scott Roeder, the man charged with killing George Tiller. Roeder recently submitted for auction an autographed copy of a cartoon depicting his own version of the story.
"Tiller" is written across the forehead of the slain warrior. And for the role of David?
It's not spelled out, and as there is that presumption of innocence in our legal system, I'll leave it for you to decide what Roeder had in mind.
But biblical comparisons aside, Roeder's supporters have yet another notion of who Roeder represents to them, despite his not-guilty plea in the murder of the Wichita abortion provider.
He's a modern-day John Brown, reflecting the fact many in the anti-abortion movement compare themselves to the 19th-century abolitionists.
"We liken him to that," said David Leach, when I reached the Des Moines abortion opponent by phone last week.
Leach, along with Regina Dinwiddie of Kansas City, had tried to organize an online fundraiser on Roeder's behalf. Last week eBay put the kibosh on it (though Dinwiddie has said the auction will go on).
My interest, however, was in the comparisons, which are all over the Internet, between Brown, the anti-slavery crusader, and Roeder, the abortion foe. True, both were zealous believers in a cause.
"But it isn't just that they believed in it," Leach said. "There were actual human beings who were suffering that both intervened to rescue."
Roeder has admitted nothing. But he donated three cartoons to the auction, the stated purpose of which was to raise money to pay an attorney who would argue that Tiller wasn't murdered but instead was the victim of justifiable homicide.
"In my writings, I've been calling it the necessity defense," Leach said.
Chances of a judge allowing that defense in a Kansas courtroom are about as remote as Leach and his compatriots being able to raise the big bucks it would take to hire a lawyer willing to employ the risky strategy.
Even Leach acknowledges that Kansas law allows lethal force only "when the harm you're preventing is unlawful." And despite claims to the contrary by abortion opponents, Tiller's conduct in performing late-term abortions was lawful, as far as the legal system was concerned.
In short, the eBay auction was a publicity stunt aimed at confusing the issue. After all, what Roeder stands accused of is an act of cowardice, not nobility.
One Sunday morning in May, an armed assailant shot an unarmed Tiller to death at point-blank range in a church.
Dressing it up otherwise doesn't change that fact, or that the person who did it is a common murderer and no more.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star has a great analysis of the publicity stunt that was the eBay auction for Roeder. We've reprinted it below. Until it disappears into the internet archives, you can read it here.